Gifts from the Kitchen, Show and Tell!

I thought we could play a little game today, Show and Tell!  I’ll share my favorite kitchen tips, and would love for you to share yours too…if you have a special trick or secret you’d like to share, leave it in a comment and I will post them all together in a few weeks!

I do love to cook,  but I really don’t spend my days in the kitchen… I do have favorite tricks that I use to make cooking quicker and easier~

paint buckets

You probably already do this, but my #1 tip is MENU PLAN.  Spend a little time each week to plan meals, make a list, and do one weekly shopping trip.  This ultimately saves you so much time and $$!

I use my monthly bucket list to gather recipes, and for quick meal ideas.  I keep this list constantly updated throughout the month, adding recipes and ideas whenever I get an inspiration.  See January Bucket List here and read more about the Paint Bucket here.

My #2 tip is to always cook extra when you do cook

Cook once, eat twice.  It’s like cutting your time in the kitchen in half.  Once you get in this habit you’ll have time to take those Cha Cha lessons you’ve been wanting  🙂

Caramelized Onions

When you Caramelize Onions here, [they make everything better], add 1/4-1/2 cup water about half way through cooking.  Although this might seem counter-productive, “Won’t adding water slow down the caramelization process?”  The opposite is actually true~


When you are cooking onions in a skillet, only a small amount of the onion surface is in actual contact with the pan.  When you add water, it heats to the same temperature as the pan bottom and covers the onion slices with this heat, reaching all the surface areas of the onions, actually making them cook faster.  The water will evaporate by the time the onions have finished cooking



This works for bacon too.  Next time you need crumbled bacon for a recipe, cut it into 1 inch pieces [kitchen scissors work well for this].  It’s easier to cook because you just give it an occasional stir, rather than having to stand there and constantly flip the strips.  When bacon is partially cooked, add a little water and this will help the pieces cook evenly, and you won’t get pieces that have burnt edges but still fatty


When you don’t need the rendered fat for other cooking, cook your bacon on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.  No babysitting, no flipping, easy clean up


You can also roast vegetables right along side


Did you know you can cook an ear of corn in the microwave in 4 minutes?  You don’t even have to shuck it! Just toss it in, cook on high 4 minutes, it’s done! Add 4 minutes for an additional ear.

corn centerpiece 1

Other easy peasy corn methods:

Roast corn in the oven either in the husk* [yep, just toss the whole thing in there unshucked] or shuck the ears and wrap them in foil or place multiple ears in a covered baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  No lost nutrients, no boiling water, and corn stays hot longer for serving and buffets

corn plate

If you do roast your corn in the husk, an easy way to shuck it after cooking is to cut off the base end [the wide end] about 1 inch with a large knife.  Then hold the top end of the husk [not the ear] and gently shake.  The corn ear will slide right out, leaving the silk and husk behind



Marinate chicken overnight in buttermilk to make it extra tender, see Buttermilk Chicken here

buttermilk chic web

Use buttermilk instead of water to doctor a boxed cake mix, like these All Occasion Coconut Cupcakes 

cupcake collage

 Brown Paper Bags

Use brown paper bags to flour chicken, eggplant, etc.  The paper is absorbent and works to keep the flour coating from getting moist and clumpy from the moisture in the food pieces.  Once you shake shake shake and coat your food,  it will be evenly coated for frying or baking and you can toss the bag away~no clean up!

Slow Cooker

Use a liner when you cook in a slow cooker, I buy mine at Bed Bath and Beyond


They cost less than $1, you can pull the bag out, tie it closed and put leftovers directly in your refrigerator.  No clean up~

crock pot liner

Don’t forget to employ your slow cooker to help out when you need more oven space.  See how to use it to make Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes here

Peanut Butter

PB 2 is a powder that you can add to food for the flavor of peanut butter without the fat and calories.  You will find it right next to the peanut butter in the grocery store


Try it in Amazing Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies here or Peanut Butter and Celery Soup here, or stir it into your oatmeal for a Cold Weather Comfort Bowls here

chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

Cookie Cutters

Cookie Cutters aren’t just for cookies you can use them to make shapes out of biscuits or puff pastry

Teriyaki Tenderloin with star biscuits

Make savory cheese straws like these Everything Cocktail Cookies here

turkey cheese rolls

Or Goldfish Cheese Toasts here


Use cookie cutters  to craft Valentine cards

cookie cutter

and to Paint Hearts here

abstract heart

Make personalized tags or place cards like these on Golden Harvest here

place setting golden harvest

You can use them for napkin rings

cookie cutter napkin rings

or as part of a tablescape

ghost napkin

Fresh Produce

Sometimes it’s okay to play with your food, it’s pretty paired with flowers like Radishes & Roses here

radishes and roses

or in a centerpiece like Crates Full of Spring here

spring table

and then you can eat it!

The kitchen can really be a great playground, so get in there and have some fun!

Do you have a favorite tip, trick or secret you’d like to share? Be sure to site the source or link to a blog post if it’s not your original idea. 

I will gather the tips and put them all together in a post for you in a few weeks, and we can all benefit !

thank you!!


I will be joining the fabulous parties on my sidebar and:

Memories by the Mile

Posed Perfection

19 Responses to “Gifts from the Kitchen, Show and Tell!”
  1. grammygoodwill says:

    No tips, but I love all of yours. I didn’t know about corn in the microwave or bacon in the oven. Those are great tips. Thanks.

  2. Mary says:

    Love all these tips & tricks Jenna! I didn’t know the carmelizing onions/water tip, I’ll have to try it! I just learned the microwave tip this summer for corn without shucking first from that old gent on YouTube. I’m drawing a complete blank on tips to share. I’ll stop back by and chime in if something occurs to me 🙂

  3. mleewest says:

    I love your kitchen tips, along with your paint bucket mugs, centerpiece, recipes–and those darling goldfish toasts! I’ll pass along a tip I learned from my eldest son (the chef): cut tomatoes with a bread knife. This holds in some of the liquid. Very helpful for making salsa.

  4. Scribbler says:

    I am drawing a blank, too — but I did love all your tips. I will come back if I think of anything. This morning I made a breakfast casserole based on one of yours! It turned out quite well, so I will share when the blog is back up.

  5. Marigene says:

    Some really great tips, Jenna. My tip is to start root vegetables in cold water, they are very dense and need time to heat all the way through, plus it dissolves most of the starch making them more palatable.
    Another tip is when cooking cubed potatoes for salad, I always put a tiny bit of vinegar in the cooking water to keep the potatoes from turning to mush if I forget to keep checking on them for the perfect doneness.

    • Thanks Marigene for the very knowledgeable tips~ I have never heard of either one, so much appreciated~ I think I know now why I have so much trouble with sweet potatoes, and love the vinegar secret! Thanks so much!

  6. Patricia says:

    Thank you for all the great tips. Now, please share, where or where di you find those great “paint cans”?????

    • hi Patricia, I got the paint cans at Hobby Lobby last spring, I had to go to several to find 4 different colors~haven’t seen them lately, but it’s worth a look now that they are putting their spring stuff out~

  7. I always zest lemons evwn when I only need the juice. They are easier to squeeze and the zest can be dried for future use. The squeezed lemons can be frozen and used to stuff poultry before roasting. Another favorite tip is to clean as you go.

  8. Kim says:

    These are great tips and techniques, Jenna. I always bake bacon and then freeze whole pieces in a Ziploc bag. When I need crumbled bacon, I just crush the entire bag. It crumbles easily when frozen. Frying small pieces is a great idea when in a rush. Next time I’m out of frozen, I’ll use your technique. Thanks for the reminder about PB2. I’ve seen you use it before and I’d forgotten about it. I hope you have a fantastic week!

    • Thanks Kim! I have frozen raw bacon but never thought of cooking it and freezing it! What a great tip! Let me know if you think of anything else, I am going to do a tip update in a couple weeks~ loving the weather this week 🙂

  9. Marigene says:

    I thought of a couple more tips that I don’t think have been mentioned…celery does last longer if wrapped in aluminum foil. The other tip is if you boil cauliflower add a little milk to the water to keep cauliflower snow white. I discovered roasting it, so very seldom boil it, any longer!

    • Thank you Marigene! These are great tips to add to the growing collection, I really appreciate it! I will be posting the new tips in a few weeks, so let me know if you think of anything else!

  10. Maggie Rabjohns says:

    A tip that hasn’t been mentioned is how to extend the life of peppers –red, orange, yellow or green. Leave them on the countertop overnight so they are thoroughly dry. Then wrap each one in two layers of plastic wrap. They will keep for weeks.

    The vinegar in the water for potatoes might not work for sweet potatoes since they don’t have the same starch as “white” potatoes. Cook’s Country had an article in August/September 2011 on cooking sweet potatoes for salad and how to keep them from turning to mush. They don’t recommend boiling sweet potatoes, but steaming them instead and then shocking them in cold water to stop the cooking.

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